Canada’s “principled” foreign policy keeps running into problems in Bahrain, the Gulf monarchy that violently suppressed pro-democracy protests in 2011.
When Foreign Minister John Baird visited the country in April, he made no public comment about Bahrain’s repressive practices, including the regime’s continued incarceration of democracy activists. His silence was troubling, not least because the Conservative government has repeatedly portrayed itself as an uncompromising defender of human rights, democracy, freedom and the rule of law.
As it happens, Mr. Baird was back in Bahrain’s capital last weekend to address the Manama Dialogue, a regional security conference. In his speech, Mr. Baird rightly rebuked Iran for its human rights abuses. Once again, however, he refrained from publicly criticizing – or even directly acknowledging – Bahrain’s own lamentable human rights practices.
If Mr. Baird wished to signal Canada’s discomfort with these practices, he could have e...
The government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper prides itself on having a “principled” foreign policy and for taking “clear positions” in the defence of human rights. Why, then, did Foreign Minister John Baird barely utter a peep in public about Bahrain’s terrible human rights record when he visited that country on Wednesday?
When Arab Spring protests spread to this Persian Gulf state in 2011, Bahrain’s government responded with deadly force, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture and other forms of ill treatment, according to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and many other independent observers.
Although Bahrain’s government later promised to implement reforms – including accountability at the uppermost levels of the country’s security forces for abuses against protesters, and the release of unjustly imprisoned opposition and human rights leaders – it has taken little action to fulfil these pledges. The regime’s latest initiative has been to launch a “Nati...